pet illustration

(Sydney Carroll / Daily Titan)

If you're struggling with the current heatwave, you can bet your pets are too. Pets are more vulnerable to heat temperatures due to their fur and lack of sweat glands. Without the proper care, they can risk getting heat stroke or dehydration. Here are some tips to keep your pets cool and healthy during the heatwave.

Give them plenty of water

Regularly fill up your pet’s bowls with cool water to keep them hydrated and body temperature down. In cases like heat waves, add ice if you have any. You can also make DIY ice popsicles for dogs to lick. Your dog may enjoy a cooling body wrap, vest or mat by soaking them in water. For caged animals like rabbits, try putting a small fan in front of their cage or leave a frozen water bottle inside to help keep it cool.

Limit their exercise

You should take your dogs out in the early mornings or late evenings when the sun is down and the temperature is cooler. Bring a water bottle to keep your pet from dehydrating throughout walks. Be mindful of the asphalt, as it can get very hot and burn your pets’ paws. Try walking them on a grassy area if you can find it or under the shade as much as possible.

Keep your pets inside

It’s important to keep your pet inside as much as possible throughout the day. You should keep them in a space with air conditioning or anywhere that isn’t hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have air conditioning, have them near a fan. If you need to have your pets outside for any reason, provide shade and water for them. 

Don’t leave your pet in the car

Never leave your pets in a hot car under any circumstances. Leaving the window open or parking under the shade won’t make much difference as a vehicle’s temperature can quickly rise  20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Your pets can suffer from heatstroke or die from the heat, so it’s best to leave your pet home if you’re running errands.

Don’t overdo your pets’ summer look

While it can be helpful to cut your dog or cat’s fur to keep them cool, it’s vital you don’t go too far and shave them completely.  Fur has a particular layer that protects them from the sun, and with the skin is exposed, they can get sunburns.

It’s best to research what’s necessary for specific breeds. For example, a husky wouldn't need a haircut since they shed their winter coat during the summer. The same goes for cats. Their fur actually helps them regulate their temperature in the summer. 

Know your pets’ risks

Certain dog and cat breeds are more at risk from the heat. Breeds with thick coats can be more vulnerable. Breeds with a squished face are also at risk since they can not breathe as well as other breeds, making it harder to regulate their temperatures. Older animals or animals with health conditions are also at a higher risk for heat stroke.

Watch for signs of heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke are often heavy panting, fever, dizziness, vomiting and seizures. If you notice your pet experiencing any of these signs, take them inside where there’s air conditioning. Provide them with cool water and if they feel hot, try spraying them with water. Be careful with the water’s temperature because water that’s too cold can cause vasoconstriction, or a narrowing of the blood vessels. This can also lead to a drastic change in their blood pressure.

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